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Who is Charles Lewis Tiffany?

The United States of America is an amazing country. Now it seems to be living in the 22nd century, having surpassed all countries of the world in technical production and inventions. And not only has overtaken the whole world but has become a kind of locomotive, pulling everyone on a trailer who wants to move.

This is not flattering, but a statement of fact, and a surprise. Indeed, in the middle of the 19th-century, America was not the most developed country, even in the field of technology. And as far as culture is concerned, it was provincial and quiet. Was it possible to keep up with London? Could you be smarter than Paris?

Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812-1902) showed that it is possible. Showed one of the first. Until now, his surname and shops marked with his surname are considered examples of expensive and refined taste. And all these changes took place during his life (albeit quite long). After all, at the beginning of modern luxury, there was only a stationery store.

Charles Lewis Tiffany was born in Connecticut to a wealthy family. One of his ancestors lived in Massachusetts in the late 17th century. On an American scale, one could say that he was born into an aristocratic family. Fortunately, in America, it is not customary to brag about the antiquity of a surname. After all, we all descended from Adam!

Early Life of Charles

Charles began earning money at the age of 15, and his father was not opposed to the fact that his son worked in his grocery after school. The practice is the best teacher in life. At 18, Tiffany Jr. was already running his father's mill. When Charles was 25 years old, he borrowed $ 1,000 from his father and opened a small store in New York. Charles's companions were his schoolmate, John B. Young and his sister Olivia. In the future, Charles will marry Olivia. Accordingly, the store was called "Tiffany Young".

Some of the romantic readers will wry their nose: "Petty bourgeois philistinism!" But such a hero probably never stood behind the counter, and he never had a business of his own. Small, but his own. Within two years, Tiffany and Young's store is operating quite steadily. Watches, cutlery, dishes and glassware are always on sale. And yes, jewelry too.

The store has its clientele. And sellers gradually learned what their buyers needed. It turns out that New Yorkers were already rich enough to be happy to buy all sorts of cool and rare things: accessories from Paris, bronze antiques, figurines of Indian gods (no, no, not fakes, real, from India), Chinese porcelain, Japanese fans and screens. All this was a sign of a rich and luxurious life. Tiffany and Young took the lead, giving direct orders to sailors and captains. They brought orders from antique shops in Europe, and friends bought everything they brought, as soon as the ship was moored in New York or Boston. As a result, the Tiffany & Young store had something that other sellers didn't have.

1848th year. In France - another revolution, King Louis-Philippe was overthrown. The aristocracy became worried and began to leave the country. In emigration, money is needed. To get them, the French elite began to sell jewelry. As a result, there are many diamonds in the market. Charles Tiffany knew the American market. He was confident that there would be buyers for French diamonds in the United States. And he took a chance ... He spent most of his capital on the purchase of diamonds in Europe. The first large and very expensive gemstones appeared in the Tiffany store. Appeared and were purchased. Tiffany's risk paid off, and the profits were enormous.

The accrued capital was immediately put into action. Charles Lewis Tiffany launches his jewelry. In 1851, many jewelry workshops were opened. New York can be as good as Antwerp!

In 1853, Tiffany's longtime partner went out of business, and the company changed its name. The new name of the company - "Tiffany Co." The central store opens on 5th Avenue, the most expensive part of New York. Branches of "Tiffany" appear in Paris and London.

Speaking of London.


Charles Tiffany is going to sell cutlery and silver jewelry to British gentlemen and their spouses. The standard among jewelers working with silver is English sterling silver, an alloy from which coins were printed in medieval England. Sterling silver is composed of 93% silver, and 7.5% ligature, most commonly copper. Tiffany imported sterling silver of his production to London and conquered the British market. Sterling silver produced by C. Tiffany has become the de facto American standard for jewelry silver.

In 1861, President Lincoln ordered a gift from Tiffany for his wife - a beautiful pearl necklace made by American jewelers.

By the mid-1860s, following the end of the Civil War (during which Charles Tiffany supported the northerners), Tiffany had become the main American manufacturer of silver jewelry. The firm has not abandoned its expansion to Europe. The Paris and London branches competed with the best European jewelers. It was, as fans at the hippodromes say, a head-to-head race. At the World's Fair, held in Paris in 1867, American jewelers first achieved success in a foreign field. The Tiffany Company received the main prize for the silver jewelry presented at the exhibition. It was a worldwide achievement.

Now "Tiffany" dictated world fashion. Before Tiffany, no one dared to release to the world market for the most elite jewelry buyers gemstones below sapphires, emeralds and rubies. Tiffany Trading House has expanded the range of "top class" precious stones. Tourmalines and aquamarines in silver attire looked no worse than their aristocratic predecessors. And in 1877, Charles Tiffany bought a large yellow diamond found in South Africa. The stone was bought for a relatively low price because it was considered ill-suited for cutting. And besides - an unusual yellow color. This stone repeated the fate of Michelangelo's "David". The famous statue is known to have been hewn out of a piece of marble that other sculptors considered good for nothing. Tiffany's jewelers cut the stone with an unprecedented cut. The Tiffany diamond had 82 facets. The stone, having lost almost half of its weight, played with yellowish sunlight so that no one had any doubts: this is a masterpiece!

World fame for the Tiffany jewelry house came in 1878, and again at the World Exhibition in Paris. Charles Tiffany himself becomes a Knight of the French Legion of Honor. Tiffany Co. supplies jewelry to the kings of Europe, the Turkish sultan, the shah of Iran and the Russian imperial house.

After becoming rich and famous, Charles Tiffany patronized the arts and sciences. Ultimately, this also led to the fact that New York slowly but surely turned into the "capital of the world." Largely under the auspices of Charles Tiffany, the Metropolitan Museum flourished, and Broadway became a theater street. And by the way, the creation of professional electric projectors by Thomas Edison was financed by the Tiffany trading house.

We, people who do not constantly shop in jewelry stores, know the name of the Tiffany firm from the novel by American writer Truman Capote "Breakfast at Tiffany's", and even more from the famous film with Audrey Hepburn. Even those who have read the novel find it difficult to explain what breakfast has to do with it if Tiffany is the largest jewelry store on the most expensive street in New York, which has never had any cafes. The heroine of the novel, a narrow-minded girl, but touching, although a little "shifted" in search of a sweet life does not know about it and drags her friend, on whose behalf the story is told, to have breakfast in Tiffany among luxury. There is no cafe in Tiffany, but leaving just like that seems impolite to a friend. The cheapest thing you can afford at Tiffany is to get an engraved ring for $ 10. This engraving will then "work".

In the film, the director interprets breakfast a little differently, as the cinema allows. Audrey Hepburn's heroine returns from some "high society" party on the luxurious 5th Avenue, still empty in the morning. I'm hungry! And the girl is chewing on a cheap bagel in front of an expensive jewelry store.

"It's so quiet and solemn there, and I know for sure: nothing bad will happen to me there. If I could find myself a place where I would be as calm and comfortable as in Tiffany, then I would buy myself furniture and would give a name to the cat”